Photographs taken at night can provide a view of place that look spectacular when the night lights are on. To get the best from your low light shots, there are a few guidelines to follow that you may not typically follow during a daytime shot. As you will be taking photos that require a long exposure time, hand holding the camera to get a sharp image will be virtually impossible, unless you set the ISO to a very high value. If you must take that shot and you don’t have a fully extensible tripod in your back pocket then use some kind of support. If all else fails and you don’t have a tripod, or any support near by and you must get the shot then bump up the ISO. 2) ISO - Keep your ISO at 100 (or the lowest setting on your camera) to reduce colour noise.
Compact cameras will always show a lot of colour noise, for many technical reasons which I will not go into here. You want decent sharpness and depth of field (DOF – how much is in focus), especially at night.
If you need to take a hand held shot (see Tripod part earlier), then set the aperture to the widest your lens will go and focus on infinity. When the sun just sinks below the horizon, there is about a 30 – 45 minute time line where the light in the sky is changing quite quickly (getting darker). The street lights will start to come on and they haven’t had enough time to warm up to their orange glow! The speed of the shutter, or how long the camera shutter stays open, should be what you use to get the exposure at night. Recommending a starting shutter speed will depend on the time of day and the subject matter.
Set shutter speed to 1 second if at the beginning of the Blue Hour, 5 seconds if in the middle and 15 seconds if at the end of the Blue Hour. You really do need to practice these shots because what you will find is that when you look at the images on your computer, they will look darker.
There are times when you do want to, or need to, shoot at full night when the sky is black. I let the exposure burn in for just over a minute to get the London Eye and buildings as sharp objects, then I started zooming the lens, very slowly and continued zooming till the end. The concept and steps are exactly the same as if you are taking a landscape or architectural photograph.
Try and compose the view so that the light from a nearby street lamp, or other source, is falling on your portrait subject. Increase your ISO so that the shutter stays open for the least amount of time whilst still getting a decent exposure without too much colour noise and the person is relatively sharp.
By using your camera as a torch, you can light your subject or even light other foreground objects.
You will also need a remote control or a shutter release cable in order to minimize shaking the camera when taking the pictures.
Set the camera in your tripod and take at least 5 consecutive images at the stars using the correct exposure time (using the RULE of 600) Do not move the camera to a different spot or change the settings unless you are done with that series of pictures.
Tip: Every time I am done with a set of pictures, I place my hand in front of the lens and take another picture.
The final image will be a large TIF file that you will use to bring up the colors in Photoshop. I also edited the blue, red and green colors in the level in order to make the nebula more visible.
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I have always been interested in stars and really saw the opportunity to try and take pictures of them. PS: in addition to the results of the sky, I tried taking pictures of my surroundings at night as well. Also if you’re in manual mode, how is it possible that there is exposure compensation setting?
I just bought my daughter a Canon EOS 70D with 20.2 megapixels, EF-S 18-55 lens and EF 700-300mm telephoto lens.
Also, an app for IOS called "Starfinder" (free download last time I looked) can help with finding nebulas and the Milky Way so you shoot more than just a bunch of stars without depth. I tried loading 1 image into photoshop and brightening it, but the amount of noise on the image was ridiculous. Thanks for the information, I followed your instructions last night and got awesome results. If you are referring to the examples in the above article, I think you need to realize these are small, web-friendly images, not the original, high resolution versions. I'm late to the game on this one, but I was camping this weekend and got some great opportunity to take some shots for this technique.
Can' t wait to give to ago and as I'm going to the Isle of Mull later in the year where the light pollution is virtually 0 I want to get some practice in! I have been an amateur astrophotographer for many years initially using hypersensitised colour film and exposures through a guided telescope of up to 3 hours. Hey, this maybe a stupid question but when I watched your video I noticed that the image you were using was in grey scale rather than RGB. If you shoot a lot of images, over a long period of time, you are making a motion "Time lapse" sequence, that can be sequenced easily in quicktime pro, for example. To sum up my understanding: To avoid creating star trails you take successive exposures of a shorter duration and stack them. Just keep trying mark, I would bracket a couple of pictures first, and find which ones give you the best result, I am usually shooting about 30 second long exposures.
It's a shame the video didn't fully explain what the photo was of, and what settings were used, or even how many shots were taken. Photos taken at night can produce spectacular results – in fact many cities present their best views after dark.
2: Choose the smallest f-number available and a relatively long shutter speed to record the lights.
Always temporarily switch off any anti-shake or image stabilisation systems when using a tripod.
Some cameras will also have difficulty focusing in dark conditions, so if yours is having problems, switch the lens to manual and focus on the lights. Another way to maximise available light is to increase your camera’s sensitivity by using a bigger ISO number. As explained in the video, there’s just two tricks to successful night photography and one is keeping the camera steady. Todd and Sarah Sisson are two of my favourite landscape photographers and in this superb ebook, they'll reveal the secrets behind their wonderful photos. Going trough these steps will help you to master the art of taking better photos of night sky. Light levels at night are very low hence a tripod stand is necessary to hold the camera still. Turn the auto focus mechanism off and then manually set the ring of the lens to infinity and opt the T-setting on the shutter control ring. Using the shutter speed option you can decide on how long the lens aperture will remain open.
Going through this article will help you to learn the trick of taking photographs of night sky. Most of the frame will be taken up by the dark sky surrounding the moon, and the result of this is that your camera will expose the scene for the dark sky. If you’re familiar with ISO and shutter speed settings, you may prefer to use a third-party camera app which will allow you to lock the focus and exposure points separately, as well as selecting an appropriate ISO and shutter speed.
The aim is to use a low ISO to avoid getting a grainy picture, and to use a relatively fast shutter speed to avoid camera shake.


So you might find certain third-party apps that show ISO and shutter speed settings more useful when taking photos of the moon. Long-exposure photography facing the North Star reveals circular pathways as the stars (relative to us) move around the pole.
For star trails, I use the NightCap app because of its ability to take continuous back to back shots at timer-regulated intervals. The app also lets you choose between JPEG, HQ JPEG and TIFF outputs, however the TIFF isn’t available for the continuous burst mode. You’ll definitely want to use a tripod or prop your phone up on a railing to keep it steady. Star trail purists might give you a hard time for stacking (rather than leaving the shutter open the entire time for seamless trails on a single frame), but there just isn’t a way to manually keep the shutter open for this long on an iPhone.
Great right up lead to my purchasing – Havnt tried yet but I will when the darkness comes this evening. I guess you should just read the reviews carefully, unfortunately night photography is not my area of expertise. That’s so little money and the developers have done such good jobs, it’s worth buying both! I use an app called Longexpo and you can set the shutter speed to different speeds and even bulb.
You could try it but your picture might end up over-exposed due to the shutter being open for a long time. The Creator loves to Romance Mother Earth, sends her flowers to the Heart of the Sea (take on the Legend of the Rose of Adonis) while he gets whole of Creation to set up the greatest banquet and party for her to accept him as the Love of her Life. The lights from the streets and buildings provide a unique atmosphere and highlight the subject matter. As long shutter speeds are needed for low light photography, the colour noise will get worse over time. For you guys with compact camera’s, look at investing in a computer program to remove as much of the noise when you download to your computer. You may be lucky and get some colour as the light rays from the sun bounces around in the atmosphere and hits warmed gases and dust particles that scatter the light and create that sunset colour. The longer the shutter is open, the more light that the camera’s sensor will gather over time and therefore the brighter your image will be. What I mean by that is whether you are taking an image during the blue hour or at full night, and whether the scene you are capturing is well lit overall or has very bright areas and dark areas.
I will be constantly tweaking the shutter speed (slowing down or speeding up the time the shutter is open). I check the image on the back of the camera to see if it is bright enough and use a combination of the histogram and highlight alert to tell me how well the exposure is.
Set your camera to Aperture Priority and let the camera meter an average for the entire scene and then use Exposure Compensation on your camera to adjust the shutter speed. The camera is tripod mounted and I change the shutter speed, aperture and ISO in this transition set to try and get the best exposures. It is possible for the light to change slightly from the first to last shot, especially with moving clouds, so be very FAST!
There is still some interest left in the sky so you can still get away with taking the shot.
Over 3 minutes exposure time with lens zooming thrown in to make it a little more interesting. The only difference is you have a person in the foreground of the scene which you also wish to expose well. What you should notice is that the shutter speed would need to stay open for a number of seconds to expose the background well.
They should then be a little brighter than your background scene (due to the inverse square law). Still set the exposure for the background, but now you want the flash to go off at the end of the exposure time to finally light your portrait subject. Think of this as the flash going off at the beginning of the timed exposure (first curtain) or at the end (second curtain).
The light from a flash is of a different colour temperature to incandescent or street light. Most smart phones will have an app that causes the screen to glow white and act as a torch. I am not an astrophotographer in any way, shape or form, nor do I have any expensive equipment. Taking stars pictures in your back yard is possible, however for better results select a place away from city lights. That is to superimpose one image on top of the others (not all the images, but pictures belonging to the same series). I have recently got the opportunity to use my dads old DSLR camera (Canon EOS 10D) as he stopped using it. After checking multiple sites on how to take pictures at night and of the night sky, I decided it was time to try it myself.
I know that this should not affect it, but are you happen to be using some kind of noise reduction for long exposures? ISO 1600 is a bit too low for me, but I still see lots of stars even then, just with less intensity. I wanted to surprise her by having it set up and ready to do a photo like this but I have no idea about cameras. Second time around I got the shot (Really noisy as I didn’t bother stacking with DSS). Recently in Kona (where lights are dimmed because of the observatory on the island) I followed the 600 rule, 18mm, ISO 1200, and stacked myy shots. This is a circa 2006 camera, and at 7 years old, I am going to suggest the noise is due to a sensor of meagre capability (signal to noise ratio at 800 ISO on almost any camera has improved by leaps and bounds since then). I was able to get a series of photos from a clear, beatiful Maine autum night sky, that I'm very pleased with.
If the camera you are using is of low quality, yes, you're going to see noise, but that is where the process of shooting a number of shots and stacking them helps.
Digital photography is a good place for experimenting but you need the knowledge to do some things.
I came home, loaded up my RAW files (they were a bit noisy due to the 1600 ISO I used) but I pressed on. I dont have an answer, my GH1 and GH2 process for about the same length of time that the exposure is.
My Images is in RGB not grey scale and when I used the technique you suggested with curves and levels it just comes out extremely red and orange. If you are wanting to just try to limit the amount of noise from low level light, then just a few pictures stacked will work. My Lumix gh1 and gh2 take about the same length of time to write the image to memory before i can shoot again.
Weird as it loaded fine on a different machine with only 8 gigs of ram and much slower c2d chip. I can't see that there would be that much 'hidden' cloud and nebula on a 28mm shot of the night sky, it looks like it was more like 300mm, but then with the rule of 600, could you get that much info in 2 seconds??? The trick to successful night photography is to get much more light into your camera for a decent-looking image, as seen in the image above right. One second is a good starting point and most cameras indicate seconds using double quotes, so look for 1”.
If the camera is perfectly steady these systems can actually introduce wobbling as they attempt to counteract something which isn’t there. Increasing the sensitivity will however reduce your picture quality and may still not give you a quick enough exposure to handhold. Over 130 pages, it combines tutorials, field guides and technical advice, using the beautiful scenery of New Zealand as a backdrop.


It’s an ability to foresee the end result in your mind's eye, and then to make it with the tools. Using longer exposures you can film or shoot good distant, dimmer objects such as nebulae or dim stars. With no optical zoom, it seems impossible to use the iPhone for true night sky photography. However, with a few simple solutions you’d be surprised how much fun you can have shooting the night sky with your phone! Because the moon is so small in the field of view, the camera won’t adjust the exposure settings to appropriately expose for the moon. Because the moon is so bright relative to the night sky, what this means in practical terms is that the moon will be over-exposed. The native camera app won’t show you the ISO and shutter speed numbers, so it’s all guesswork. If you take a long exposure photo of the sky, the stars will appear to make light trails or circles. To give the stars enough time to travel a tiny bit between shots, set the interval to around 15-20 seconds.
I usually keep mine plugged in so it doesn’t drain the battery too quickly (which can happen in about 10 minutes in the winter). You basically want to take the brightest pixels from each frame and layer them into the final star trail photo. So if you lock it under one kind of light and then change the lighting it will keep the previous white point. I’d like to keep the shooting and editing just on my iOS devices as it gives a more seemless workflow.
That way you are not holding down the shutter for long periods, which reduces any shake and subsequent blur. I change the shutter speed every two minutes or so, typically going slightly longer each time.
Remember that because most of the scene will be dark, the camera will over expose so dial down by 1 stop.
No one can stay perfectly still for even a second so they will appear slightly blurred as they try to stay still. When the flash goes off at the beginning of the timed exposure the camera will still be gathering picture information of the person after the flash fired.
Are you actually setting the camera up to WAIT say 30 seconds and then shoot (rather than setting your exposure to last that long)?
I wonder if you tried the same thing with a more modern camera with better noise control, if you'd have better results. I used the Deep Sky Stacker software and when it "stacked" them, they were offset by a little bit (due to the shift from taking a series of shots over 3 minutes). This means that often star trails will look so short that you will not notice them (particularly with short focal lenses and no blow up of images).
I realise the stars move, I just don't understand how you can stack successive images WITHOUT getting movement. The stars are all moving, those further from the north star in our hemisphere move further. Manfrotto models are widely regarded as the best around and allow you to separately buy the legs and the head unit. An informative and attractive ebook that's highly recommended for anyone wanting to improve their landscape photography! If you are using the traditional camera then load the camera with a high speed film (Min ISO 200). You may even put it in a mode wherein the shutter will remain open until the shutter release is pressed again. In this tutorial you’ll discover some handy exposure tips for improving your iPhone photos of the night sky, as well as how to create wonderful star trail photos. Once you’ve tapped on the screen to set focus, simply swipe down to reduce the exposure.
A tripod helps, but might not be necessary especially at faster shutter speeds and if you have a steady hand.
The North Star is the only star that appears to stay in the same place because it’s very close to the north celestial pole above the Earth. Take back to back photos for at least 20 minutes to see some decent trails – the longer the better! It will lock both the shutter speed and ISO at the same time, and I don’t believe there is a way to lock only the ISO independently. For distance subjects there would be no point in using flash as the light from the flash will only travel a few meters. This will result in some additional image information of the person appearing on top of the person. I compared my pictures to those my friend made with his camera and he got much better results than I did. The shot I have uploaded is only 4 megs (I shoot with a 25 MP camera and the original is huge). Consequently, lets say a 10 minute exposure would give a trail, 10 minutes in lenth, whereas a photo every minute for lets say 10 seconds in length, would give 10 stars with the same distance of the first example.
Taking Photographs of night sky is comparatively difficult than the photographs of sky taken in daylight.
You can set the shutter speed to the bulb setting, or can set it at a range of settings between 2 and 40 seconds. To make sure that you actually capture the sky pictures you need to ‘bracket’ your exposures. You’ll see the sun icon on the exposure slider and the image will begin to appear darker as you swipe. But, if it’s properly exposed, you should see differences in dark and light patches on the face of the moon. Although you could shoot very early in the morning when the sun is just about to come over the horizon.
It will be trial and error to take a shot, check if the subject is bright enough, if not then change the exposure compensation and quickly take again. My advice is always colour balance your subject correctly and let the background turn orange.
You will find an older comment of mines here on November 11th where a page is linked with some hints on the subject. However surprisingly any one can take the best quality wide angle photographs of the night sky by using single lens reflex 35 mm traditional film or digital cameras. Optional: if you have telescope or telephoto lenses then you can connect it to your camera. When the flash goes off at the end of the timed exposure, any low light image information that the camera has gathered of the portrait subject will be overwritten (somewhat) by the brighter person that was illuminated by the flash at the end.
An alternative is to use a colour balance gel for your flash so that the light from the flash is the same temperature as your background. What DID frustrate me about the demo above, is the image was in colour, but the tab in the curves menu in PhotoShop said "grey".
The Photoshop problem is frustrating as well, as i have about the same setup that you do with the i7 core and memory.
I get memory errors and if i watch my Task Manager and memory usage, it i hardly being taxed, and i have played with many of the memory allocation settings without much help.



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